Upcoming agri challenges to fore as ministers hold talks with Hogan and Poots

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Barry Cowen met via video conference with European Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan, and spoke via telephone conference call with Northern Irish Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots.

The discussions took place yesterday, Tuesday, July 7, as part of a range of engagements by Minister Cowen with key interlocutors since taking office, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in a statement last night.

Talks included challenging topics for Irish agriculture, including: Mercosur; Brexit; and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

Meetings

The minister was joined by ministers of state Pippa Hackett and Martin Heydon.

Speaking after the conclusion of today’s engagements, Minister Cowen said: “I was very glad to have the opportunity today to establish contact with Commissioner Hogan and with Minister Poots.

Brexit was, of course, a common theme of both discussions. I had a very useful exchange with Commissioner Hogan on the current state of play in the EU-UK negotiations, and took the opportunity to reiterate Ireland’s agri-food and fisheries concerns, including in relation to the potential economic impact post-December 2020, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

“Similarly, my conversation with Minister Poots was very constructive, and covered north-south trading arrangements post-Brexit, implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, and the prospects for the wider EU-UK discussions on the future relationship,” he added.

The minister also talked with Commissioner Hogan about the wider international trading environment.

Mercosur ‘market disturbance’

This discussion, the department says, included the need to be ready to respond to any market disturbance arising from the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as well as to “exploit opportunities created by market access developments” in other FTAs.

Minister Cowen also reiterated Ireland’s position that the achievement of increased environmental and climate ambition through the CAP must be matched by an adequate CAP budget.

Continuing, the minister said: “I found today’s discussions extremely productive, and it was also useful to have my colleagues Ministers Hackett and Heydon involved.

“We intend to continue this process of engagement over the coming days.

“Tomorrow we will meet with my UK counterpart, Secretary of State George Eustice, and on Thursday we will have separate discussions with European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, and with Irish farming and industry representatives,” the minister concluded.

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